What are the Legal Aspects of Gunsmithing?
As old as America’s history and culture, gunsmithing has existed for decades. It’s the practice of repairing, modifying, designing, or building small firearms.
While the practice has a rich tradition, the legal landscape surrounding gunsmithing in the United States is nothing short of complex. Gunsmithing regulations help protect public safety and conserve people’s rights to own and use firearms.
Like in many other states across the country, a gunsmith in Michigan must follow the strict regulations put in place to ensure lawful and safe activities. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) oversees firearms regulations.
As a gunsmith, you must follow the Gun Control Act 1968. This act has several requirements, including;
- Firearms manufacturing – Gunsmiths must get a Federal Firearms License (FFL). An FFL is a must when creating firearms from scratch, manufacturing receivers, or making alterations that change the features of a firearm.
- Record-keeping – FFL holders must have a record of all their firearms transactions, as the ATF agents can inspect these records when needed.
- Background checks – Gunsmiths must do background checks on their customers when selling firearms to confirm their eligibility to buy firearms under federal law.
- Prohibited persons – Gunsmiths shouldn’t sell firearms to prohibited persons, like convicted felons, people with restraining orders, and people struggling with mental health.
- Marking and identification – Before selling a firearm, you must ensure they are marked with a serial number or export recognition marks to allow tracking.
- Export and international sales – For exporting firearms or making international sales, you must follow additional regulations, like obtaining an export license.
Beyond federal laws, you may face local regulations. Boroughs and counties have laws on how to sell firearms, their storage, and operations. As a gunsmith, research and comply with these local rules to ensure full legal compliance.
The specific requirements for state laws can differ from one state to another. For example, some states have stricter laws on firearm changes, registration, and background checks than the federal requirements.
What is the National Firearms Act (NFA)?
The National Firearms Act, proposed into law in 1934, puts strict laws on firearms, like short-barreled rifles, shotguns, and automatic weapons. If you are a gunsmith working on NFA firearms, you must follow these regulations:
- Registration – Register your NFA firearms with the ATF. Also, you must file the necessary paperwork before transferring the firearm to a new owner or making significant changes.
- Transfer tax – During the registration process, the transfer of NFA firearms has a tax levy, and you must pay the related fees during the registration process.
- Background checks – Apart from the standard background check, you must thoroughly investigate customers wanting NFA firearms.
Working on NFA firearms requires you to fully understand these regulations, as non-compliance can result in severe legal consequences.
To become a skilled gunsmith, you must learn the nitty-gritty of the business and understand the complexity of industry regulations–through years of experience and knowing the law surrounding the industry. This expertise will have you operate within the law, protect your businesses, and ensure public safety.
Undoubtedly, navigating the gunsmithing legal landscape can be challenging, if not overwhelming. So, as you run your gunsmithing business, maintain and preserve the thin line separating people’s rights and public safety, especially because firearms exert considerable influence in this society.